Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Britian on a Budget

I've managed to sort out the piles of work on my desk. Not as daunting a task as it first appeared. My boss has a habit of dumping EVERYTHING on my desk. One third of the items on my desk went into the trash or to someone else.

My trip was very nice and very sad at the same time. My friend’s husband is quite ill, home from the hospital, but still quite ill. For all my grousing about giving up a vacation some place warm, sandy, and sunny or at least Britain in late spring, I'm glad I went over when I did. I honestly don't know if my friend’s husband is going to "bounce back" from this illness he has. I had made very tentative plans to try a trip to the UK in the fall, when I found friend’s husband was truly ill, I decided sooner rather than later and am glad I made that decision. I really wonder if he will be around come fall. It is truly People first, money second. I can rant about the NHS in another post........

That being said, I did get a call from said friend while I was sitting in the airport twiddling my thumbs. Seems her bank would do currency exchange for free! I exchanged about $40USD just so I had some Sterling in my pocket, but when I got to my destination, one of the first things I did was make a withdrawal from the "hole in the wall" and walk into the bank to get Sterling! I did this twice during my visit. I've not sorted out exactly what I spent money on, I have to look back at all my receipts and figure that out. I tried to use cash as much as possible. When I went off with the girls for our couple days out, I left most of the cash behind in my passport case, I forgot to grab the Sterling when I packed up for our adventure. I used my debit card and it IRKS me to no end that I got whacked with these fees from my bank for the "privilege" of using my debit card because I FORGOT my cash back at the house. Ah well, all I could say when we stopped for lunch and realized I had left the bulk of my cash "back home" was Bugger All.. If you need a translation click here.

Britain is not a cheap country to travel in. I am eternally grateful for the generous hospitality of various friends I've made over the years that allow me to drop in and spend days at a time at their home. By staying with friends over the trip, I figured I saved about $600 in hotel costs. The two nights the girls and I were traveling, we stayed in a small guest house and it cost me 50 pounds each night, or roughly $75USD each night. That did include breakfast. Gas is still expensive. I paid on average 90 pence per liter (not gallon), sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. I am glad I did get a car. Having that freedom to travel when I needed to was a godsend. I pretty much got to peoples houses and parked the car, but when I needed to run an errand I could just up and go. It also allowed me to take my time and do a little touring of my own as I made my way from friend 1 to friend 2. I bought my fair share and then some of liquor and food from Tesco's and Morrison's as my contribution to the meals, it was the least I could do, add another couple hundred dollars on for lunches and dinners to the hotel costs had I been staying in hotels or B and B's.

Probably the one splurge to me was buying a pass to sit in the Airlines Presidents Lounge. Due to my earlier than planned arrival at the airport (like 7.5 hours before my flight was set to board), I bought a day pass to the lounge. It was the best $45 bucks spent. My airlines web site did not indicate that I could buy a singular pass, they stated passengers could buy passes in books of ten if they were not members of the Presidents Club. When I checked my bags, the attendant said that they do sell day passes, so off I went and Shazamm, a day pass is what I got. I had a very comfy seat to pass the time while reading my book, in and out privileges, a place to store my carry on bag, free munchies, free drinks (even free beer and wine), reading material, a TV to watch, and probably my favorite- a place to shower. Yup, the Lounge had a shower. I took advantage of that to take a quick rinse about an hour before boarding the flight. My flight was an overnight flight and I knew based on my travel upon landing in the UK that it would be a long time to be in my travel clothes before I could change out of them. Airport food and drink is freaking expensive and buying my lunch and a couple drinks at the airport would have cost me around $30. I had a lunch of cheese, crackers, fruit, mini bagels and chips. I had packed a makeshift sandwich for my lunch (using leftovers from home). I got on the plane, relaxed, clean, and happy. I had my meal, read my book and promptly fell asleep for the majority of the flight (it was an overnight flight so when I landed it was morning there and the middle of the night for me back home) and got to the UK in a good mood and well rested.

The other interesting part of my trip was the completely unexpected opportunities I got talking to some friends to write some posts about Personal Finance and spending habits. I’ll be working on those posts in the upcoming days.

Here are a couple photos of my travel! Enjoy!


Dawn said...

Sounds like a great trip! I would have never thought about buying a day pass. That is good to know! I don't travel often, but I love keeping those ideas in mind.

Fabulously Broke said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Europe is uber expensive, from what I hear.. but totally worth the travel there.

I laughed so hard at the last sign with the translation in many languages. It reminds me of Quebec only because everything is French/English/sometimes Chinese lol